SHRM 2010 Day 1 Recap (from exhibit floor). Positive Economic Signs and Making it Easy on Buyers.

With 11,000 paid attendees (up 4,000 over 2009) congregating in San Diego Sunday afternoon for SHRM 2010 and several thousand more non-paid walk-ins expected, could it be a hint that perhaps economic conditions are improving - or at least HR budgets are freeing up?

At least for the moment the mood is optimistic. While helping the HRmarketer team set-up our exhibit (#318), I ran into Audrey Johnson from World at Work who told me exhibit space for the May 2011 Total Rewards conference is already nearly sold out.

Then their was the HR VP I spoke with from Tennessee (her first SHRM) who traveled the 2,000 miles to San Diego at the request of her CEO. She was on an HR shopping spree, telling me business was great and she was looking for ways to improve HR and support their employees - and the many more they expect to hire in 2010.

Speaking of hiring (and Steve Forbes who keynoted SHRM 2010), a recent report from Forbes Magazine finds that more than a dozen companies in a variety of industries are expected to hire 1,000-plus freshly minted employees this year. Verizon Wireless tops the list, with an expected crop of 10,500 this year.

All of the exhibitors I spoke with said opening night was excellent. Our own team set an opening night record for HR Phonebook orders.

I had a great discussion with ReviewSNAP (an software customer) founder David Arringdale who told me demand has substantially increased the past 18 months for their web-based performance management system - another positive sign for the HR economy. While I was speaking with David, I noticed the literature rack at his exhibit included a pricing sheet for his product.

Huh? I did a double take.

I'm guessing no other exhibitor in the talent management and HR technology space is so open about pricing to the point of having their price sheet available for any passerby .

As a marketer, I think this is very, very smart - for four reasons: It makes it easier on buyers (who hate to ask "how much does it cost?"), acts as a self-qualifier for prospects (saving your sales team time), helps establish immediate credibility with the prospect (who appreciate the transparency) and finally, it puts competitors on the defensive.

OK - on to the exhibit floor for Day 2.

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